The mass media is stirring the hoopla to psych out the masses to show up at Asheville City Council’s meeting on what to do with city-owned property across from the US Cellular Center. The mayor has called the deteriorating old parking garage an “eyesore” that must go. The city had an offer, but the basilica across the street made a greener offer for less dough. Citizens are now being pushed to push council for the more bucolic use of prime real estate. Some want no development at all.
To this, I say, “Blah.” Among my psychoses, I was born without that part of a brain that compels me to suffer irreparable, clinical damages by buildings. So what if a building is ugly? There’s always the other side of the street. Even if the building belched concentrated, toxic smut 24-7, there are enough streets downtown to find alternate routes. Really.
People are afraid of tectonic issues. This works when the typical guy who never took a course in geotechnical surveying pits his wits against demolition experts. Why, one can fly airplanes into skyscrapers and leave the rest of the city unscathed. But that’s beside the point. It is not the experts who make political decisions. It is the masses of a median intellect, plus or minus, who don’t believe what they don’t already know. Besides, experts are too specialized, and they never grasp the whole. Thank goodness for intuition and conscience.
Now that I’ve waded way further into the fray than a decent sense of dignity should tolerate, I shall drift into a reverie. Today, I ran across a piece of legislation written in 1850. It pertained to immigration policy, but it had an otherworldly view of economic development. One of the whereases went:
Labor, industry, and economy is wealth, and all kinds of mechanics and laborers are requisite for building up and extending the benefits of civilized society, subduing the soil, and otherwise developing the resources of a new country.
Where is that piece in today’s economic picture? Before I read the verse, I was thinking it might be instructive to create a video game called “Economics.” One would start with the federal deficit in actual dollars, actuals on unfunded liabilities and due dates, costs of currently-budgeted items, etc. Then, they could decide what harms they wish to inflict on the globe to mop up after what will amount to, after the buzz is gone, government’s appetite for destruction.
Granted, people in high places are now saying that money is nothing. They see the power of faith and optimism, but leave out that element of work that little elves always were about behind the scenes. With all due respect to good intentions, I am reminded of Adlai Stevenson’s funny, “I find Paul appealing and Peale appalling.” For one thing, no working conservative has the time to dig through government obfuscations, if the best they can find is last year’s estimates rounded to the nearest hundred billionth. For another, economists say the debt is OK; pay no attention to the other side of the Atlantic. Print, spend, think about it tomorrow. America always muddles through.
Fiscal conservatives have been warning about the state of the country’s economy for decades. The word “cliff” has taken on new meaning in dinner-table conversations. I see the cliff as one from the cartoons, where the character runs off and keeps running until he looks down and realizes where he is. We’re running on the inertia of a good work ethic, but insufficient productive inputs are bringing about a winding-down scene.
Then, thought I, maybe we have maxed out that old paradigm of developing technologies to protect humans from the elements, provide abundant nourishment, and extend the human lifespan. Maybe something new and entirely wonderful is about to unfold.
I wouldn’t count on it.
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